IN THE KITCHEN Mark LeBrun and his brother, Greg, own and operate the Linden Store in Wellesley, but the delicatessen itself precedes them by decades. The business was established in 1933, and the LeBrun family purchased it in the 1970s.
“You could say it’s in our blood,” Mark LeBrun said. “It’s a labor of love. We’re here from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. to make sure everything’s done the right way.”
The deli is something of an institution in town, a gathering spot for people of all ages, and not only because of its longevity. The brothers really emphasize the culture they have built, and the role they try to play in the community.
“Our employees know a lot of our customers by name or face or what they order,” LeBrun said. “It’s kind of a meeting place for kids in the community when they come home from college for the holidays. It’s like their living room — we try to make it really warm and inviting and friendly.”
THE LOCALE The previously modest digs on Linden Street, adjacent to the Linden Square shopping complex, just underwent a major renovation, with the deli having reopened for business this month. The space next door opened up last year, and “it was just time to take the Linden Store into the future,” LeBrun said.
The renovation, which added 1,100 square feet and increased the business to 2,400 square feet, included the addition of a kitchen, prep space, and an office.
“We needed some more space to operate and be a little more efficient,” LeBrun said. For customers, there are additional seating and restrooms. The two brothers incorporated warm wood for countertops and a 1930s-style tin ceiling in the redo.
“We’re trying to create a vintage, comfortable feel, not ‘foof it up’ too much,” LeBrun said.
ON THE MENU The Linden Store has flown somewhat under the radar outside its Wellesley environs, the brothers acknowledge, but it recently landed on a top-sandwiches list nationwide, an honor for which their ingredients can take credit.
The deli sources its menu staples from various places in order to achieve the highest possible quality. That includes several Boar’s Head deli meats, and vegetables from the A. Russo & Sons market in Watertown.
“We’re really, really sticklers as far as the quality of our produce. Everything that comes into the store has to be perfect or it gets returned,” Mark LeBrun said.
Any list of their most-popular sandwiches has to start with the Isabella ($10.50 large, $7.95 small), which features thick round cuts of mozzarella cheese layered with sliced tomatoes, crimped ribbons of fresh basil, whispery tendrils of prosciutto, and a drizzle of olive oil. The turkey stuffing sandwich ($6.75-$7.95), laden with cranberry sauce, is a hit with those seeking a dose of Thanksgiving year-round.
The Italian ($6.75-$7.95), a deli classic made for meat lovers, brings together thin-sliced salami, mortadella, and capicola with provolone cheese, tomatoes, pickles, onions, and olive oil.
And the Dude Ranch ($6.95-$8.25), with sliced barbecued chicken breast, pepper jack cheese, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, and ranch dressing, is more than fun to eat. “All the kids love to come in and say, ‘I want the Duuuuuuuuude!’ ” said LeBrun.
Most sandwiches are served on a choice of a large or small roll, baguettine, wrap, or bread.
The large menu also features soups, salads, and smoothies, and of course coffee to linger over while sitting counterside on a retro diner stool.
“We have some customers who always get the same thing, and others who dance around’’ the menu, exploring its various offerings, LeBrun said.
“Everybody has their own flavor.”
The Linden Store is at 162 Linden St. in Wellesley; 781-235-9837, www.lindenstore.com.Rachel Lebeaux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @rachjournalist.